By MATT NOLES
FONDA, NY – Rocky Warner had to fight for the entirety of his rookie season in the Modified division at Fonda Speedway to capture his first-career feature victory in 2018.
What a difference a year makes.
On Saturday night at the historic Fonda, NY, fairgrounds oval, the driver of the Jake Spraker owned No. 1J went from his 11th starting position in the 30-lap main event to the lead after a caution on lap-19 erased the advantage that then race-leader Pep Corradi had accumulated since assuming the lead ten-circuits previously.
What’s more impressive isn’t the fact that this is Warner’s third triumph thus far this season at the ‘Track of Champions,’ it’s the manner in which he earned his latest career tally.
Simply enough, he performed a slight miracle. Though Jesus walking on water is certainly much more profound, Warner still made the seemingly impossible, well, possible.
On a track surface that surely favored track position and the utilization of the bottom lane, Warner started from the sixth row and drove to the front using the topside of the speedway surface. He made it look strikingly simple in the process and once he moved into the top-spot, he never looked back winning by well over a straightaway with Corradi, Bobby Varin, Jessica Friesen and Matt DeLorenzo rounding out the top-five.
Though victories are all well and good, Warner and the rest of the Jake Spraker team are looking at the bigger picture as the title chase heats up along with the weather in the Mohawk Valley.
“I saw Bobby [Varin] was getting away from us and we’re looking at points right now,” said Warner after his win Saturday night. “He’s the one we have to pay attention to and he started taking off and it was follow-the-leader on the bottom and no one was making any mistakes so we had to try the outside.”
It’s a simple approach, really; go where your competitors aren’t. It was either going to pay off in spades or Warner was going to drop through the field faster than the Titanic made its way to the bottom of the Atlantic. For last night, at least, the former came to fruition rather than the latter.
“I looked up top and saw a little brown up there,” explained Warner. “So, I went up and tried hitting it and I wasn’t really good in turns three and four to be honest but once I figured that out, I thought that we had a good car.”
Sometimes Modified features can be nothing short of a marathon, others, on the other hand, are more like a 100-yard dash. For all intents and purposes, there seems to be no middle ground in the matter.
On Friday night at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway [in Malta, NY], the Modified feature gave Warner more cautions than he wanted. On Saturday at Fonda, Warner had no help in getting to the front by any means as the race wore on steadily from the initial green flag until the lone caution of the event on lap-19.
“I think I could have caught Pep [Corradi] without the caution,” continued Warner. “Bobby [Varin] and I were racing each other along with Darwin [Greene], and we seemed to be catching him but it would be tough to say whether we would have gotten by him or not without that caution; you never know. I think the yellow definitely helped and he [Corradi] has a big-block so he had to be a little bit more cautious than we did with the small-block and I think that was the big difference tonight.”
Hindsight being what it is, Warner’s attempt at running the top definitely left little to be desired, but it wasn’t necessarily his idea alone to move his Teo Pro chassis up a lane at first.
“I don’t know who it was but somebody kept getting a run on me up top,” He explained. “I was on the bottom trying to get under another car and he kept getting a run on the outside so I said ‘if someone is making it work then I’m going to make it work.’ We fine-tuned on our line a little bit and ended up making it work for us.”
The word happy is often defined as showing pleasure or contentment. At this point in the 2019 season at the Fonda Speedway, the man known simply as ‘The Flying Squirrel’ is the very embodiment of the term.
“I’m super happy right now,” Warner said with a smile. “I was happy with the two wins I had before this one and to go ahead and add another one to it is just unbelievable. Jake [Spraker] has given me phenomenal equipment; this car just hooks up and goes and this has been a dream season. I have a lot of people upstairs looking over me and making this happen honestly.”
Dream season or not, there is still one item that needs to be checked off of his proverbial 2019 bucket list. An item which has – up to this point – eluded him by one position twice thus far this season; a victory at the coveted oval in Malta, NY.
“This win kind of makes up for finishing second last night,” concluded Warner. “But there’s nothing like winning at Malta. Fonda is definitely a pretty cool place to see and win at and I don’t know what they did during the pace laps tonight, it seems like there were a thousand lights in the stands waving to us but I want a win at Malta; that’s the next goal on the list to get.”
GRADUATION/JACK COTTRELL NIGHT AT THE FONDA SPEEDWAY QUICK RESULTS 6/22/2019
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH – 30-LAPS – ROCKY WARNER, Pep Corradi, Bobby Varin, Jessica Friesen, Matt DeLorenzo, David Schilling, Steve Akers, Craig Hanson, Cody Bleau, Michael Maresca, Josh Hohenforst, Danny Varin, Brian Gleason, Dave Constantino, Vinny Sanganetti, Brian Pessolano, Darwin Greene, Ed Harris, Don Bellen, Korey Wilder, Dylan Scribner, JR Hurlburt, Elmo Reckner, Mike Kolka, Scott Huber, Aaron Jacobs
HEAT RACE WINNERS: Cody Bleau, Scott Huber, Michael Maresca
SWAGGER FACTORY APPAREL CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH – ($1,000 to win thanks to Eric Orozco Racing) – 25-LAPS – TIM HARTMAN JR., Dan Santabarbara, Nick Scavia, Adam McAuliffe, Brian Borst, Cody Clark, JaMike Sowle, Joe Williams, Tony Farone, Jeremiah Munson, Joe Orlando, Brian Calabrese, Harry Shaffer, Jeremy Tuttle, Michael Wagner-Fitzgerald, Tim Dwyer, Chad Edwards, Kathy Bellen, Mike Jackson, Griffen Mansmith, Mark Mortensen, Jason Armstrong, Aaron Burton, Andrew Buff, Josh DeMagistris, Travis Greene, Kurtis Hohensheldt
HEAT RACE WINNERS: JaMike Sowle, Adam McAuliffe, Nick Scavia
MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE FOR AGING INC. LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH – 20-LAPS – EJ MCAULIFFE, Rich Christman, Brendan Gibbons, John Young, Tucker O’Connor, Brett Mortensen, Steve Wagoner, Alan Hanson, Michael McCallion, Bill Port, Dylan Eldred
ALGONKIN MOTEL PRO STOCK FEATURE FINISH (BEST OF 8 SERIES PRESENTED BY AMERICAN RACER) – 20-LAPS – LUKE HORNING, Kenny Gates, Josh Coonradt, Nick Stone, Chuck Dumblewski, Ivan Joslin, Cassidy Wilson, Beau Ballard, Jeff McPhail, Jason Morrison, John Roese, Randy Cosselman, Justin Knight, Andy Graves, Jim Normoyle, Buck Gasner, Reuben Kennedy Jr., Alicia Hughes
HEAT RACE WINNERS: Josh Coonradt, Luke Horning
TRACKSIDE BODY WORKS STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH – 15-LAPS – JASON SAMROV, Michael Arnold, Stephen Young, Cliff Haslun, Justin Taylor
FOUR CYLINDER CRUISER FEATURE FINISH – 12-LAPS – COLE LAWTON, John Napoli, Wayne Russell, TJ Marlitt, Ken Hollenback, Riley Pedrick, Jim Daniels, Josh Samrov (DQ)
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) ANTIQUE FEATURE FINISH – 6-LAPS – FRANK BLANCHARD, Mike Cole, Tony Kamberelis, Ed Dockskalik, Mark Reardon, Alan McDonald, Tim Warner, Larry Hoyt (DNS)
MOHAWK VALLEY VINTAGE DIRT MODIFIED SERIES (MVVDMS) ANTIQUE FEATURE FINISH – 15-LAPS – JOHN FLACH, BRYON SEYFRIED, Dan Wood, Mike Francisco, Rob Sanford, John Constantino, Stanley Wetmore, Carl Cram, Marv Blackwell, JOHN ROESE, Malcum Warner, Dan Karl, George Palmer, Doug Atkins, Ed Lawrence, John Atkins, Tex Gorden, Scott Gathier, Phil Barkins, Mike Hotaling